Task group formed to solve Zambo trader’s abduction

ZAMBOANGA CITY (Mindanews/20 August) – A task group has been activated to address the abduction of a businesswoman seized here Monday evening by gunmen believed to be members of a kidnap-for-ransom group (KFRG).

Activated was Task Group Michelle, which was named after the victim, Michelle Panes, 36, a businesswoman from Purok 5, Barangay Labuan, this city.

Senior Supt. Angelito Casimiro, Zamboanga City police director, will act as the task group commander since he doesn’t have a deputy for operations that is supposed to head the body.

Casimiro said Wednesday there was no demand yet from the suspects, who are believed to be based in the province of Zamboanga del Norte.

The suspects abducted Panes and her husband, Noel, while they were tending their grocery store at around 7:45 p.m. Monday in Purok 5, Barangay Labuan.

Panes’ husband managed to escape while he was being forced to board on a motorboat locally known as “jungkung.” The couple’s grocery store is located less than a hundred meters away from the shore.

The gunmen fled towards the direction of Zamboanga del Norte.

Panes was the third to be abducted in Barangay Labuan by gunmen believed to be KFRG members based in the province of Zamboanga del Norte.

The first was Olivia Barredo, also a businesswoman, who was seized in the evening of March 3, 2011. She was released on April 22, 2011 in a secluded place in R.T. Lim, Zamboanga Sibugay.

The second was Flordeliza Ongchua, a teacher, who was seized on November 13, 2012 and was freed on December 24, 2012 in downtown Jolo, Sulu. (MindaNews)